Continuing education isn’t usually the first thing on a professional’s mind. But in certain industries, it’s a requirement just to continue practicing. Thus, staying on top of your education is necessary to avoid putting your career and livelihood at risk.
Tips for Making Continuing Education Less Stressful
Whether you’re a real estate agent, healthcare professional, lawyer, insurance agent, or financial advisor, you face strict requirements and expectations to obtain the appropriate continuing education in order to remain licensed and able to practice. And for millions of professionals, these mandated education requirements cause stress and friction.
But as burdensome as continuing education can feel, it actually plays a very important role in your career. By prioritizing it, you can:
- Improve your overall confidence in your skills and career.
- Stay ahead of industry trends and requirements.
- Enhance your resume and make yourself more marketable.
- Set yourself up for raises and promotions.
When you look at it through this context, the why becomes fairly obvious. But the how isn’t always so clear. So without further ado, let’s explore some tips for staying on top of your continuing education so you can enjoy the aforementioned benefits.
- Make Continuing Education Normal
One of the big issues is that we see continuing education as something that’s set apart. In other words, it’s something that you have to do every couple of years, then you forget about it. This makes it seem like a bigger deal than it really is.
One way to prevent Continuing Education (uppercase) from feeling like a monumental challenge is to make continuing education (lowercase) a habit. In other words, the more we make education an ongoing habit (through reading, listening to podcasts, etc.), the more these courses feel like a normal part of life.
- Set Specific Goals
Goal setting is helpful in every area of our lives and careers – including continuing education. When it comes to obtaining the required credits and certificates, set goals that require a certain amount of proactiveness and effort.
As always, setting SMART goals is considered a good practice. This means making goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. When your learning objectives fit these criteria, it becomes much easier to work towards them in a tangible way.
- Choose the Proper Learning Medium
Everyone learns differently. Some people do well in physical classroom settings, while other people prefer to get their CEUs online. And when it comes to online CEUs, some people prefer live teaching and others would rather do an on-demand training at their own pace. Pick an option that helps you learn best. This will dramatically improve your experience.
- Be Proactive
Procrastination is half the battle with continuing education. The longer you put it off, the more dreaded it becomes. And as the schedule gets compressed, you feel the pressure mount.
The easiest way to avoid these issues is to be proactive with continuing education. Don’t wait until you have two weeks remaining. Start six months in advance and knock it out early. This allows you to tackle it at your own pace (and avoid a situation where you jeopardize your career because of forgetfulness).
- Set Aside Time
Jumping off the previous point, the best way to tackle continuing education is to do it little by little. If it’s going to take you 12 hours to complete a specific course, try breaking it down to one hour per week for 12 weeks. (Try 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon and another 30 minutes on Thursday afternoons, for example.) Suddenly, 12 hours becomes much more manageable!
- Stay Accountable
Don’t trust yourself to stay on track – even with well-intentioned plans? You may benefit from forming some sort of professional accountability group where you ask other people to follow up with you periodically to ensure you’re making progress. (You’ll be much more inclined to do the work if you know people are watching.)
Rethinking Continuing Education
When you stop viewing continuing education as some detestable task that someone else is making you do and view it as an opportunity for growth and development, your entire motivation will change. This simple perspective shift helps you see education for what it is: An opportunity to get better. So, next time you’re confronted with a continuing education requirement, why not rethink your view?